Wayne Stephenson played during some of the best years of Flyers hockey. He was a member of the 1975 Stanley Cup team and came within a few victories of winning a Cup himself. Stephenson’s impressive resume makes him the best Flyer to wear no. 35.
Several players were in the running for this number. It was popular among goaltenders, as you can guess. Steve Mason could one day earn this title, but he has one year with the Flyers under his belt. Mason will need a few more impressive years to show everyone he is the real deal. I digress.
The Flyers acquired Stephenson in 1974 from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a second-round pick and the rights to Randy Andreachuk.
Stephenson served as Bernie Parent‘s backup during the 1975 Stanley Cup run. Stephenson saw limited action, playing in only 12 games. When he did play, Stephenson proved he was more than a capable backup. During the 1974-75 season, he went 7-2-1 with a 2.95 goals against average and a .895 save percentage.
When Parent went down with an injury in the spring of 1976, Stephenson stepped in and backstopped the Flyers to another Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers were swept by the Montreal Canadiens. Stephenson ended the regular season with 40 wins, 13 losses and 10 ties. He posted a 2.58 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. During the playoffs, he continued his strong play, allowing 2.67 goals per game with a .904 save percentage.
What may have been the biggest moment of Stephenson’s career was his performance against the Red Army. Stephenson allowed one goal in a 4-1 victory over the Soviets.
Stephenson would play three more years with the Flyers, putting up respectable numbers until the end of the 1978-79 season when contract tensions began to mount between Stephenson and the front office. The Flyers traded Stephenson to the Washington Capitals during the offseason.
During a five-year span, Stephenson played in 169 games. His career numbers with the Flyers are 93-35-22 with a 2.77 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. His save percentage numbers may look abysmal in comparison to today’s numbers, but the NHL was a much different league when Stephenson played.
Wayne Stephenson died from brain cancer on June 22, 2010 at the age of 65.